published Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Foothills Country Fair adds barbecue championship

TO PARTICIPATE

The Backyard BBQ Bash, a new event at the Foothills Country Fair, needs competitors and judges. The barbecue cooking competition will be held July 27-28 during the four-day festival at Tri-State Exhibition Center in Cleveland, Tenn. For competition and judging class applications, go to www.foothillscountryfair.webs.com. The website also has information on a competition for amateur barbecue cooks.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bradley County's ninth annual Foothills Country Fair turns up the heat this year by moving to the middle of the summer and adding a state barbecue championship to its stable of events.

The barbecue competition, which will be held Friday and Saturday, July 27-28, is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society and offers $10,000 in prize money.

"We -- the Ruritan clubs of Bradley County and Hamilton County -- have been looking for something to hang our hat on," said Executive Director Louie Alford. "We believe the barbecue competition will be a tremendous addition to the fair."

Kansas City Barbeque Society events judge four categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork and beef brisket.

The barbecue competition will be limited to 40 teams, said Alford, and a dozen teams have already committed. So far, the team traveling the farthest distance hails from Michigan.

While the barbecue competition is fun and good eating, it's also serious business, said Alford.

The Kansas City Barbeque Society will provide representatives to certify judges on Friday and oversee competition judging on Saturday, said Alford. There has to be a minimum of one judge per team entered, plus a few managing judges.

Judge certification can only be earned through a five-hour class, said Alford.

"It's quite an intense class," said Alford, who stated he watched one in action previously.

Award-winning barbecue competitor Bill Wheeler, of Cleveland, is on tap to provide professionally cooked meats for the judging class and is signed up for the big competition as well, said Alford.

"The competition will be a unique experience for Cleveland," said Wheeler, who cooks on a number of teams, including Que'n Stew'n & Brew'n and Chicken Butt BBQ.

World-class barbecue cooking master and author Myron Mixon has given verbal confirmation that he will attend the Backyard Barbeque Bash, said Alford.

While the barbecue competition is meant to give the fair a boost, it's only one aspect of the Foothills County Fair, said Alford.

The change from fall to midsummer gives vendors a chance to show off the most produce, said Alford. Even though fall equates to harvest time, most gardens vegetables have been canned by then.

The four-day fair -- which begins Thursday, July 26 -- will retain a number of signature events offered in past fairs, including pageants, midway rides and agricultural exhibits.

The fair also will host a number of musical acts, including Shenandoah and The Collins Brothers.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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